Three popular pancake toppings that could help reduce cholesterol

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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Whether you’re a flipper, turner or just buy yours from the grocery store, Britons all around the country will be tucking into delicious pancake stacks this Shrove Tuesday. While indulging once a year is perfectly acceptable, poor dietary decisions can raise your high cholesterol, hiking your risk of cardiovascular problems. It is therefore imperative to enjoy the sweet day without taking it too far. However, three popular pancake toppings could surprisingly make your cholesterol levels rejoice.

From fancy toppings like nut butters to the all-time classic of lemon and sugar, choosing your pancake flavour is part of the fun.

However, there’s no need to compromise your cardiovascular health, as three popular toppings could help reduce your cholesterol levels while appealing to your taste buds.

Dark chocolate

Chocolate spreads can be a crucial part of the Shrove Tuesday menu but swapping the sugary topping for actual chocolate can do you one better.

Covering your pancake with dark chocolate and almonds could see your levels of “bad” cholesterol fall “significantly”, according to research.

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A study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that pairing the crunchy snack with dark chocolate was beneficial for cholesterol by looking at 48 overweight and obese individuals between the ages of 30 and 70 years.

However, the researchers warned that the message of the study isn’t that people should go out and eat a lot of chocolate and almonds.

The study’s lead author Penny Kris-Etherton said: “People are allowed to have about 270 discretionary calories a day, and when foods like almonds, dark chocolate and cocoa are consumed together as a discretionary food, they confer health benefits unlike other discretionary foods such as frosted doughnuts.”


As the previous study suggested, nuts offer more than a crunchy snack or an enjoyable pancake topping.

The small foods are packed with unsaturated fats while keeping their content of saturated fats low – “a mix which can help to keep your cholesterol in check”, according to Heart UK.

What’s more, nuts also contain fibre which can help block some cholesterol from being absorbed from the intestines into your bloodstream.

From almonds to hazelnuts and pistachios to walnuts, all nuts count.

“Where possible, go for the kind with their skins still intact as they contain more nutrients,” the charity added.

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Whether it’s strawberries and chocolate or blueberries and butter, fruits are often dotted around fluffy pancakes.

It’s not a secret that colourful fruit contains vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals which help you to stay healthy while being low in calories.

Similarly to nuts, the reason why they can help lower cholesterol comes down to their fibre content.

Fresh, tinned, frozen or dried, good fruit options that can keep your cholesterol at bay include apples, strawberries and prunes, according to Heart UK.

While adding healthy yet tasty toppings to your pancakes can complement your health, you should also watch your sugar intake.

Dr Sara Mesilhy, Gastroenterologist from the Royal College of Physicians UK, said: “Generally eating too much sugar has a lot of consequences for the body immediately and in the long-term. 

“Eating large amounts of full-sugar pancakes in one sitting may contribute to tooth decay, acne, faster skin ageing, weight gain, obesity, insulin resistance, and development of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart diseases, depression, and mood disorders.”

Remember, the NHS shares that adults shouldn’t eat more than 30 grams of free sugars a day, which is roughly equivalent to seven sugar cubes. 

This isn’t just the ingredient you add to your batter but also sugar hidden in spreads, toppings and other treats you buy from the grocery store for your pancakes.

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